Northern Ireland

Thousands attend Northern Ireland St Patrick's events

Derry parade
Image caption This colourful dragon was part of the Derry parade

Thousands of people have attended St Patrick's Day parades across Northern Ireland on Monday.

Downpatrick, Londonderry, Omagh, Enniskillen and Armagh all staged large parades. Belfast held its parade on Sunday.

Meanwhile, six PSNI officers have walked in the New York St Patrick's Day parade for the first time.

A small number of republicans staged a protest at the start of the parade against their attendance.

The six PSNI members accompanied about 120 officers from Ireland's An Garda Síochána.

Freelance reporter Julie Walker said she spoke to the organisers of the parade, who told her that suggestions that the invite to the PSNI would be rescinded had nothing to do with them.

International festival

In Northern Ireland, the organisers of the Downpatrick parade said they expected about 30,000 spectators to attend.

Its theme was 'world music and dance' celebrating St Patrick's Day as an international festival.

In Derry, 600 participants took part in the parade themed on music, magic and myth.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption This giant bike filled the streets of Downpatrick

The city council estimated at least 14,000 people were on the streets to enjoy the spectacle.

In Omagh, an open-air concert was held along with a parade in the town centre.

Enniskillen's main parade started from Lakeland Forum at 15:00 GMT and then circled the town.

St Patrick arrived at the celebrations courtesy of a police speedboat.

More than 15,000 people were expected at the Armagh parade which left the Palace Demesne at 12:45 GMT and made its way through the city centre.

'Biggest in years'

On Sunday, Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir hailed Belfast's St Patrick's Day parade as the biggest in years.

Thousands of people were in the city centre for the parade and a free concert.

The theme of the parade was St Patrick - Into The Future, with the saint depicted as a time-travelling adventurer.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption St Patrick walked barefoot through Downpatrick during its parade

The parade included floats, performers and music.

Among the floats was a Back to The Future flying DeLorean, and a Doctor Who Tardis.

Mr Ó Muilleoir said: "What we wanted to do was, because St Patrick's Day isn't a public holiday, let's have an event everyone can attend.

"All the schools are closed today, there are no places of work really open and I think it's paid off for us."

He added: "It's the biggest turnout I've seen in some years on St Patrick's Day, great colour, lots of green, and what really thrills me is that 700 young people, from right across the city, the Shankill and the Falls, are leading the carnival parade."

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